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UAW Election Results Delayed to “Challenged” Ballots

The contest for the presidency of the United Auto Workers is now in extra innings with challenger Shawn Fain clinging to a narrow 645-vote lead over the union’s current president, Ray Curry.

UAW President Curry at 38th convention
Incumbent UAW President Ray Curry is trailing in runoff election, according to the court-appointment monitor running the election.

But the website for the Members United Slate backing Fain as well as Curry’s Solidarity Team slate both confirm the final outcome has not yet been determined.

Count of challenged ballots needed

The outcome will be decided by 1,608 “challenged ballots.” The court-appointed monitor is determining whether the challenged ballots come from eligible voters. In many cases, the voters never included the number of their Local Union on the ballot. In other cases, the elections officer appointed by the monitor was unable to determine if the voter appeared on a list of a local union’s list of active or retired members, observers said.

“The independent monitor is continuing to conduct the vote count process. No outcome has been determined,” the Curry Solidarity Team said in a Facebook post. “This is a process that make take a while,” Members United noted.

So far, the elections officer has counted 137,591 votes and Fain, boosted by the fallout from a scandal, is leading by 645 votes, according to the unofficial results compiled by the monitor, who was appointed in the wake of the recent scandal during which a dozen union officials were sent to prison.

UAW reform candidate Shawn Fain
Shawn Fain, head of the reformist “Members United Slate,” would finalize a complete repudiation of the old guard UAW leadership, if elected.

Contract deadlines fast approaching

It is uncertain how long it will take to resolve the challenged ballots, which are now under lock and key. But it could take time to count the time to the challenged ballots. The winner will be sworn in seven days after the Monitor declares a winner.

The deadlocked election leaves the union without a leader at a critical time as it prepares for contract talks with Detroit three automakers. The negotiations involve contracts, covering more than 126,000 hourly workers employed by General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

The UAW is scheduled to hold its bargaining convention March 27 – March 30 where it will outline goals for negotiations with the automakers and other employers, including the new EV battery companies setting up plants in the United States. Expectations are also building for the union to deliver major wage gains in the new contract.

The UAW recently organized nearly 1,000 employees at GM-LG Energy plant in Lordstown, Ohio and is now in the midst of negotiating a new contract, which is incredibly sensitive because it is likely to serve as the template for other battery plants organized by the UAW.

UAW-Ford Handshake
The union is quickly closing in on the start of its negotiations with the Detroit-based automakers and still has no leader.

Since the Lordstown plant was organized in December, Curry has taken a direct role in the discussion around a new contract, separating them from the UAW GM Department, which is now headed by a reformer, Mike Booth, who was elected after the first round of voting last fall.

During the run-off, however, Chuck Browning, a representative of the UAW’s old guard and the administration caucus, easily won election as vice president, despite having fallen just short of 50% in the first round. Browning is an experienced negotiator who oversees the union’s Ford Department and has handled the union’s bargaining with companies such as John Deere, Caterpillar and CNH. 

Browning, who was originally appointed as one of the union’s three VPs in 2020 after his predecessor resigned after being accused of sexual harassment, did not face a challenger from Fain’s Members United Slate in the runoff.

But he did put together an effective campaign centered on the Ford Department, rallying the officers at Ford locals. The Browning campaign also gave Curry a major boost, who won two-thirds of the votes in Region 1A, which includes several big Ford plants such as the Rouge, and also helped him carry Region 8 in the Southeast with a strong showing at Ford’s plants near Louisville, Kentucky.

Fain, however, carried seven of the UAW’s regions, including Region 2B, covering Indiana and Ohio, and the pivotal region centered around Flint.

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